Work completed on last staffed fire in Alaska

With the perimeter 100 percent contained, the remaining 39 firefighters left on the last staffed fire in Alaska will demobilize from the Tiechovun Fire today. The Alaska Division of Forestry’s Type 2 Initial Attack White Mountain Crew and Type 2 UAF Nanook Fire Crew are the last two crews to come off of the Tiechovun Lake Fire (#304) burning 16 miles south of Chalkyitsik. The BLM Alaska Fire Service’s Type 1 Midnight Sun Interagency Hotshots and the Type 2 North Star Crew demobilized earlier this week. Estimated at 2,709 acres, the Tiechovun Lake Fire has a black line around its entire perimeter. It will be kept in monitor status as some smoke could be visible from deep within the interior of the fire that is burning in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. However, the fire is not expected to grow beyond its current containment line. Firefighters working on the nearby Applevun Fire (#305) that burned 10 miles southwest of Chalkyitsik left on Sunday after making sure the entire 100-acre fire was out. Both are lightning-caused fires that were discovered on July 2.
There will still be BLM AFS personnel in Fort Yukon until Sunday to wrap up things from the two fires and in case more fires pop up in the Yukon Flats. They’ll also monitor the ones still burning as the Yukon Flats continues to be the driest spot of the state. While the Tiechovun Lake Fire was the last staffed fire in Alaska, that could change as most of the state is experiencing a drying period that is forecasted to last through the weekend. In addition, the Yukon Flats has not received substantial amounts of rain and remains dry in the lower duff layers with the tundra remaining volatile. The area is expected to be under cloud cover today with a 40 percent chance of rain. However, the cooler temperatures are accompanied by westerly winds predicted to gust up to 30 mph and possibly kick up fire activity on some of the other fires burning in the area. The Kevinjik Fire (#302) burning in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge about 42 miles northeast of Chalkyitsik since July 1 typically shows some movement toward the border on hot, dry and windy days. It was estimated to have burned 20,805 acres. When last flown on Monday, BLM AFS personnel reported the fire wasn’t active and didn’t have any visible smoke. Other areas of the Porcupine River drainage will remain a concern for Upper Yukon Zone firefighters.
Nonetheless, with not much lightning predicted, the cause of new fires will likely be due to human carelessness. All three of the new fires yesterday were human caused as the Alaska Division of Forestry continues to respond to reports of unattended campfires or escaped debris pile burning.
Meanwhile, fire officials called 13 fires out since Monday after most of Alaska received wetting rain in the past week. Of the 304 fires that have burned an estimated 288,974 acres so far this season, only 28 were still considered active today.
For more information, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)356-5510 or eipsen@blm.gov.

About BLM Alaska Fire Service

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, provides wildland fire suppression services for over 244 million acres of Department of the Interior and Native Corporation Lands in Alaska. In addition, AFS has other statewide responsibilities that include: interpretation of fire management policy; oversight of the BLM Alaska Aviation program; fuels management projects; and operating and maintaining advanced communication and computer systems such as the Alaska Lightning Detection System. AFS also maintains a National Incident Support Cache with a $10 million inventory. The Alaska Fire Service provides wildland fire suppression services for America’s “Last Frontier” on an interagency basis with the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Military in Alaska.

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